Essential Edges

Times may change, but the need for essential game care tools still persists.

It is a fact that over time, things change and that evolution is generally coupled with performance enhancement. Primitive men used some form of chipped stone edged tool or similar material to

One of the most well-designed and compact mini-hatchet/fixed-blade knife combo available today, the Bobcat combo is right on target. Image: Durwood Hollis

both field dress and butcher the large mammals that he successfully hunted. While the basic assignments have change little over time, tool materials and their configurations have. Many of today’s hunting community have consigned the job of butchering to others, but the removal of an animal’s internal viscera still remains a very personal activity. Consequently, that results in the need for a small hunter’s hatchet, once a seemingly important tool, to see its usefulness diminished over time. Likewise, the hunting knife, which was once defined as a fixed-blade edge tool, seems to have fallen on hard times.

In defense of the hunter’s hatchet/axe, it can be used for a plethora of hunting/outdoor jobs, including, but not limited to: game care (field dressing, skinning, quartering), trail blazing, firewood gathering, kindle splitting and emergency shelter erection, as well as a host of other assignments. Hunters and guides, particularly in the Far North Country (New England, Canada and even Scandinavia) still find plenty of use for a small hatchet/axe in the outdoors. With regard to the fixed blade knife, today just one-in-five hunters carry one of these rigid blade cutters. The reason probably lies in the fact that vehicles play a huge role in our hunting practices and having a fixed-blade knife on your belt isn’t as comfortable as a lock-blade folder, particularly when setting in a car, truck or utility vehicle.

Even though some of their appeal has faded, the importance of the hunter’s hatchet and the fixed-blade knife platform are still essential edges for big game hunters anywhere. Thankfully, the folks at Knives of Alaska (KOA) haven’t forgotten that fact and recently introduced the Bobcat Combo, a hunter’s mini-hatchet/fixed-blade knife combination pared together in a single leather sheath. While the isn’t a new concept, it is one of the best-balanced cutlery configurations I’ve seen.

The Knives of Alaska Bobcat combo contains both an Alpha Wolf fixed-blade knife (top) and a mini-hatchet (bottom) in the same leather belt sheath. When comes to basic field care and butchering these edged tools are a hunter’s essential edges. Image: Durwood Hollis

Crafted from D2 tool steel, which is well known for it inherent ability to both resist chipping and staining (12% chromium in it alloy formulation), the handle is integral with the actual axe head and handle scales are molded from “Suregrip” with a textured surface for a non-slip hand-to-tool contact. An ingenious hide hook is integrated into the back of the axe head for added usefulness. Easily sharpened with a diamond encrusted rod or similar round edge restoration tool, this feature can make quick work of slitting tough hide without compromising underlying viscera and muscle tissue. Weighing just 6.5 ounces and measuring 8.125-inches overall, this is the ultimate field butchering tool. Furthermore, the Bobcat mini-hatchet is available individually with its own vegetable tanned, oil, split grain leather sheath, or as a paired combo with an Alpha Wolf fixed-blade knife.

Included in the Bobcat combo is the Alpha Wolf fixed-blade knife, which features a drop-point blade configuration that offers added strength at the blade tip for both general field dress and trophy work, as well as a sweeping belly for skinning duties. The 3.20-inch long blade is crafted from D2 tool steel and heat-treated to Rc 59-61.  Like the Bobcat mini-hatchet, handle scales are molded “Suregrip.” Paired together in a single, belt-mounted sheath, this is the ultimate big game hunter’s field dressing and butchering tool.

I’ve used the Bobcat combo on both wild pigs and deer and have found the performance of both the mini-hatchet and the fixed-blade knife to be peerless. The knife easily handled basic field dressing, skinning and even cape removal without a hitch. Likewise, the mini-hatchet quickly cut its way through sternum cartilage, as well as spinal column and pelvic bone when the animals were quartered for transport. And having both edged tools in a single leather sheath was extremely convenient. No matter where you pursue big game, on the North American continent or beyond, the Bobcat combo by Knives of Alaska is your essential edge.–Durwood Hollis

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